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Network across America.

Networks Across America

The special needs of ethics committees in rural hospitals provide the primary focus for the work of the Vermont/New Hampshire Network of institutional ethics committees. Foundations for the Network were laid in the mid-1980s through a series of workshops on ethics committees organized by Charles Culver, M.D., of Dartmouth's Mary Hitchcock Hospital. The need for an expanded network became apparent as the number of ethics committees in Vermont doubled in the last three years. Financial constraints precluded hiring a full-time ethicist at each facility, so hospitals had to develop their own expertise in ethics.

The Vermont state medical society's committee for medical ethics hopes to develop a network newsletter, offer training sessions for new ethics committee members, and assemble educational materials for committees. Meanwhile, across the state line, a meeting of chairs of ethics committees in New Hampshire this fall will work toward promoting ethics committee decisions based on sound ethical reasoning, rather than the individual interests and predilections of members.

Contact persons for the Network are Charles Culver, M.D., Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and Denise Niemira, M.D., North Country Hospital, Newport, Vermont.

This spring, representatives of the Arizona Humanities Council, Arizona State College of Nursing, University of Arizona Medical Center, and St. Joseph and Good Samaritan Hospitals in Phoenix met to form the Arizona Bioethics Network. The primary purposes of the new Network are to educate committees and affiliated practitioners and to circulate policies of member institutions.

Previous attempts to establish a network in Arizona were unsuccessful. Kenneth Iserson, M.D., of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, suggests that this was because participants tried to secure agreement from a wide variety of groups before starting and defined the charter too broadly to be able to institute activities simultaneously.

Contact person is Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D., M.B.A., Section of Emergencxy Medicine, Department of Surgery, University of Arizona College of Medicine, 1501 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724.

Two ethics committee networks have recently been established in Wisconsin. On the state level, the Wisconsin Ethics Committee Network, sponsored by the Center for Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, plans to hold quarterly meetings around the state to increase access for member committees. Work by subcommittees is underway to promote educational activities, policy development, and amalgamation of resources.

Contact person is Margaret Leinbach, Director, Specialty Nursing, Mercy Medical Center, 661 Hazel Street, Oshkosh, WI 54901.

The Catholic Hospital Association of Wisconsin is forming a network by bringing together the chairpersons of more than twenty committees. While the Catholic Hospital Association of Wisconsin Network is still in its infancy, an educational session has already been held with a representative of the Minnesota Network for Institutional Ethics Committees. The Network has a special interest in bills in the state legislature that have implications for medical ethics and ethics committees.

Contact person is Ronald J. Fought, R.N., M.P.H., Vice President, Nursing, St. Agnes Hospital, 430 East Division Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935.
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Author:Kushner, Thomasine
Publication:The Hastings Center Report
Date:Aug 1, 1988
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